More than 1,000 individuals died from an opioid overdose in 2017, according to Tennessee Department of Health statistics.
Of that 1,268, 48 occurred in Rutherford County.
Forty-eight parents, children, partners, siblings, and friends missing from our community.
As these numbers continue to increase annually, the ripple effect being felt by the youngest members of our state and county is undeniable.
A child’s exposure to the toxic level of stress associated with a family member’s addiction and subsequent death can be classified as an adverse childhood experience (ACE).
Tennessee is committed to learning more about such adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which also include other traumatic, violent or stressful events.
ACEs can impact brain development and impose lasting health effects throughout the lifespan. Based on her research, pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris’s reports, “the profound discovery was that our patients with four or more ACEs were twice as likely to be overweight or obese and 32.6 times as likely to have been diagnosed with learning and behavioral problems.”
At Middle Tennessee State University, we are excited to have the opportunity to integrate evidence-based curriculum introducing ACEs into MTSU academic programs. The Center for Health and Human Services on campus has recently received funding from Tennessee Department of Children's Services, through the Building Strong Brains Tennessee initiative, to give students in diverse program areas basic knowledge and understanding of the prevalence of ACEs in our community.
The Child Development and Family Studies program will be among those implementing the “All Children Excelling through a Comprehensive Network of Trained Providers” curriculum, thus further expanding our students’ knowledge of the negative effects of ACEs and strategies to build resiliency in individuals.
As educators in the Child Development & Family Studies Program at MTSU, we provide our students with a holistic approach to improve families’ and children’s abilities to function positively at all stages of life. Our graduates are prepared to support and empower individuals and families facing various types of stress, including those connected with ACEs and the opioid crisis, to help create a more resilient community.